At least since the time of the poet Pindar in the mid-fifth century BCE, the ancient Greeks understood that regimes could be classed according to rule by the one, the few, or the many. Twenty-five centuries later, if one were to press Classical historians on how much attention they have paid to each type, they might respond, with some sheepishness, that two out of three ain’t bad.
Professor Rhodes, Professor Osborne, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about your book, Greek Historical Inscriptions 478-404 BC. This is not your first collaboration; the companion volume, Greek Historical Inscriptions 404-323 BC, was published ten years ago. How did you approach writing these two books? Do you work separately on … Read moreAn interview with Peter Rhodes and Robin Osborne, authors of Greek Historical Inscriptions, 478-404 BC
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Paul.
Can we start with your motivation for writing this book? Was it your knowledge of the ancient world and Greece’s political systems, or concerns about the modern world?
A combination. I think I’m a kind of ‘natural’ democrat in the sense of being (an) anti-elitist egalitarian, but it wasn’t until I was a student first at the University of California and then Oxford that I got a chance to show my true democratic colours
Today we are delighted to bring you the first in a series of interviews with this year’s shortlisted authors. Marc Domingo Gygax, author of Benefaction and Rewards in the Ancient Greek City: The Origins of Euergetism, took the time to answer our long list of questions. Thank you, Marc! Your book is entitled Benefaction and … Read moreAn interview with Marc Domingo Gygax, author of Benefaction and Rewards in the Ancient Greek City: The Origins of Euergetism
3. Proleptic Honors
Let us return to our initial question: how is it possible that at Hippucome and other Greek poleis significant honors were granted to individuals who had only promised contributions to public projects and had not yet accomplished them? Put another way: How can we explain the paradox of public subscriptions? An initial answer is that euergetism was a form of gift-exchange, and that in this typically Greek practice it was normal to outdo oneself, whether intentionally or not, in the counter-gift, to the extent of indebting the initial giver and forcing him to reciprocate with a new gift.